Online Shopping Trends: Going from “Go-Go” to “No-No”?

The easy growth for online shopping appears to be over, according to new research findings published by Boston Consulting Group.

bcgBCG just completed surveying ~3,300 Americans aged 15 to 85 about their online shopping habits across 41 merchandise categories. In every category, a clear majority of respondents report that they don’t plan to increase their online spending in the next three years.

Depending on the category, the percentage of people who do not plan to increase their online spending ranges from 78% to 92%.

And in some disparate categories ranging from food and beverages to packaged goods, fine jewelry, news media and automobiles, more than a quarter of the people already shopping online said that they actually plan to decrease their online spend over the upcoming three years.

opsoPerhaps even more surprising, the BCG survey results show similar findings regardless of generational groups — Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials alike.

BCG has conducted other studies on this topic in the past, but reportedly this is the first time such low “future intention” figures have been collected, and it suggests that future e-commerce growth will be a good deal more challenging for many companies who offer their products and services for online purchase.

Here’s a quote from Michael Silverstein, a BCG senior partner and specialist in consumer shopping behaviors, speaking about the new research findings:

“Consumers are notoriously unable to predict their spending patterns. However, the findings from this research certainly pour cold water on everyone’s expectations for a continuously rising e-commerce world.  E-commerce winners will have to earn new dollars and new spending by providing new value.  That means me-too players will suffer — and leaders will need to provide more user-friendly websites, lower prices, and offers tailored to individual customers.”

There remain a few categories where people are planning to spend more online in the coming years.  However, they don’t represent physical products. Instead, those categories are airline tickets, hotel reservations, and entertainment ticket reservations.

Still, it’s interesting to see online commerce now entering its “mature” phase.  Those rapid, double-digit growth rates couldn’t go on forever — and indeed, they now look to be a thing of the past.

2 thoughts on “Online Shopping Trends: Going from “Go-Go” to “No-No”?

  1. Here’s a warning from a frequent online shopper. I was ready for cyberspace 50 years ago. I lived on the phone, typed my love letters and loved cross-town or cross-country or across borders.

    What makes me shop online, other than the fact I live in the blessed boonies rather than in Long Beach where you can get everything and everything cheaper. is convenience.

    I want v-a-l-I-d advice and competent information. I do not want boilerplate-riddled chat windows. I don’t want the transaction to eat up my time and try to upsell me wherever I turn. I loathe automated welcome and “please rate your transaction” emails. The same goes for “please register” coercion, which always takes my time and gets the website operator yet another dataset.

    BTW, I usually register with a special dead-letter file email that I only use that one time – if I must.

    The bottom line: Will a sales portal provide me what I want, or will it steal my time with pseudo networking banter?

    Gotta Go.

  2. Perhaps humans need physical contact with each other in the “bazaar” more than we suppose.

    One definition of civilization is an ever-increasing ability to achieve privacy. Yet, even though capable of isolating ourselves from others these days with ease due to the internet, many people, especially the young, want to rub shoulders, live in cities, and grab that polo shirt physically at Target …

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